4WD MODIFICATIONS - ELECTRIC & LIGHTS
We tested Narva’s Ultima 225 HID lights on two of our 4WDs and found them to be, literally, brilliant.
HID (high intensity discharge) driving lights set a new standard when they hit the market 20 years ago, but they were not cheap, at over a grand for a pair. Pricing has dropped over the years and it’s now possible to pick up a pair of these for around $650.
After examining the available HID lights we were impressed by Narva’s Ultima 225 HIDs, so we sought a long-term test pair, to check out their durability.
As the model number suggests, the Ultimas measure 225mm in diameter and are 140mm deep. They have synthetic body material, with clear, polycarbonate lenses that have a glare-reducing plastic insert in the top of the lens. This is coloured a distinctive red on the HID version and the latest models have LED position lights included.
Clear polycarbonate covers are standard equipment.
We evaluated a pair of spread beams as well as the normal pairing of a spot with a spread. The two spreads gave excellent side vision, as well as around 600-metre distance beams.
Bush drivers can set up the HID spread beams so that they illuminate a wide section of road and, just as importantly in ‘roo country, the sides of the road. The kits came with a complete ‘plug and play’ wiring loom that included a mouse switch, fuse and fuse holder, relay and relay block, and cables insulated with corrugated tubing.
A one-metre wiring harness with water-tight, click-connectors joined the remote ballasts to the lights and ballast mounting brackets were included. A bonus inclusion was a patented switching box that allowed the loom to work with positive or negative triggering.
The original mountings were Narva’s rotary cup types, with stainless steel securing bolts and Nyloc nuts. later models have a through-bolt clamp mounting, which is much easier to adjust.
After our testing of the two-spread combination was complete Narva announced upgraded Ultima 225s, including changes to the HID versions. The lamps’ extra tough glass reinforced polymer housings now have interior space for the ballasts to be accommodated internally. This provides additional protection against the elements and saves additional mounting.
The mounting system has been changed and bolt holes on the bracket have been repositioned, so they can be reversed, allowing improved forward and aft movement to suit a variety of applications on 4WDs, trucks, coaches and off-road vehicles. An 8mm interlocking spacer block has been added to provide improved height adjustment and an aluminium ‘crush tube’ has been inserted into the housing, to give extra strength and stability. Snap-fit bracket caps have been fitted, for increased security against theft.
On and Off Road
The wiring kit and instructions made fitting relatively easy, but buyers who feel out of their depth with what are quite complex electricals should have an auto electrician do the work.
We discovered on a night drive into Cunnamulla, on a dirt road that was thick with ‘roos that we could spread the beams quite widely and see ‘roos that were several metres away from the road edge. More significantly, the ‘roos could see the bush that was further away from the road than where they were standing, so when they panicked at the noise of the approaching vehicle they didn’t jump into the only patch of light they could see: the road in front of the vehicle. Instead, they chose to hop into the bush that was lit by the very wide beam spread.
Our post-bush-trip inspection of the Narvas showed that they sustained no damage, other than a couple of small chips in the polycarbonate lens protectors.
The accompanying video is of a second set of test Ultima 225 HIDs that consist of a pencil and spead combination.